Minions prodigy: from a fictional character to a marketing protagonist
Minions, the little yellow monster appeared for the first time in the cartoon Cattivissimo me, are back just in these days in cinemas with a new film. If in their first adventure they were the right-hand men of the villain, now they are the real protagonists. Blockbuster in USA and Europe, the film dedicated to these odd, yellow, little men is cleaning out the box office also in Italy.
For those who still don’t know them, Minions are little monsters dressed with a mechanic’s overall, cruel and clod at the same time, always looking for the most evil person ever to wait him/her on hand and foot. It is not a coincidence that their name means exactly “slaves”.
From cinema to marketing the road is short, especially for these little men, who have been able to attract long lines out of the cinema and gadget shops, becoming a powerful brand.
Pantone, a polestar for the graphic world, after a three-year pause period, presented on April 2015 “Minions Yellow”, connecting for the first time a fictional character to one of his colours: “The Minions Yellow Pantone opens the way for intelligence and originality – explains Leatrice Eiseman, Pantone manager – it is the colour of hope, happiness and optimism”.
Pantone is only one of the dozens of brand infected by the “yellow fever”. A lot of big clothes and accessories enterprises have dedicated Capsule Collection to Minions so as to ride the enthusiasm of kids and adults for these little monsters.
Low cost brands as H&M, Bershka and OVS, for example, provide items for children and adults with the funny mechanics, while a lot of gadgets like furs, utensils and accessories, which can be bought on the most important e-commerce websites, are getting more and more popular everywhere.
In the Expo season, the food year par excellence, also the food brands have hurried to ride the yellow wave.
Minions has appeared as gadgets in the Happy Meals, the McDonald’s menu for children, as surprises in the little chocolate egg by Kinder, or as a limited Tic Tac edition. The most successful move is the one by Chiquita. The leader company in fruit production printed Minions, very addicted to bananas, on the tags of its fruits, creating also a site and a dedicated contest.
These are only a few examples of how Minions have become a great marketing instrument and the explanation of this prodigy is effectively summarized by the American website www.adweek.com : “They are the perfect marketing creation, and are being used as such. They’re not only all over McDonald’s physical and digital promos—they also have their own Jell-O product and appear on Twinkies, bananas and Tic Tacs. And basically anything yellow.”
Their fondness is contagious, their irreverence and their being outside the box hit the mark. They are appreciated by companies because they make them able to reach unpredictable results: surprising customers with something they didn’t ask for, but they want in the right moment they see it, the company changes, achieving immediately more success and approval.
Another Minion’s weapon is their being a very closed family, even though sometimes they seem very bizarre. The three protagonists of the film face every sort of adventure always without mistrusting each other. Their sequences of events, so absurd and incredible, represent the importance of sharing every moment, big or little, with people who love and respect us.
The reason of their popularity could also be their candid innocence, which involves and captures everyone, young or adult. They look for the villain to serve, but they never become really evil.
Maybe this is the key of their success: their deep wish to have a guide, without whom they feel lost. Their strength, as a marketing lever, is their being so far from the real life, because of their aspect and their expressions, but at the same time so similar to us.
In the next months we’ll see if this massive use of Minions in communication and marketing campaigns won’t be counter-productive, generating in a long-term period such an overexposure to invalidate the effectiveness of these campaigns.